President Donald Trump has announced that he will not be participating in a Republican presidential primary debate in Iowa next month, opting instead to hold a competing town hall event. The president’s campaign said the decision was made after multiple networks refused to move the debate schedule from Thursday, January 28 to a later date.
Trump’s town hall event on his preferred night will be hosted by Fox News outside of Des Moines, Iowa on January 28. The Republican National Committee (RNC) has set the party’s debate for the same night in Des Moines.
Trump had previously voiced his displeasure with the debate schedule, tweeting that the networks hosting the debates were “playing games”. The RNC refused to move the date of the debate, citing the need to adhere to the original schedule.
The president’s campaign team believes this is an attempt to prioritize Democratic candidates over Republican candidates. They accuse the networks of caring about ratings rather than giving voters a fair opportunity to see all of the candidates.
In addition, Trump’s team has accused the DNC and networks of seeking to deprive him of “free media” by not providing him with a platform for his message. The RNC has defended its decision, arguing that it cannot provide preferential treatment to any candidate.
The decision to hold a competing town hall is seen by some as an attempt to pressure the networks into changing the debate date. It remains to be seen if this strategy will be successful.